Bernard of Chartres - Encyclopedia


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BERNARD OF CHARTRES (1080 ?-1167), surnamed Sylvestris, scholastic philosopher, described by John of Salisbury as perfectissimus inter Platonicos nostri saeculi. He and his brother Theodore were among the chief members of the school of Chartres (France), founded in the early part of the 11 th century by Fulbert, the great disciple of Gerbert. This school flourished at a time when medieval thought was directed to the ancient philosophy of Plato and Aristotle, and had perversely come to regard Aristotle as merely the founder of abstract logic and formal intellectualism, as opposed to Plato whose doctrine of Ideas seemed to tend in a naturalistic direction. Thus Bernard is a Platonist and yet the representative of a "return to Nature" which curiously anticipates the humanism of the early Renaissance. John of Salisbury (Metalogicus, iv. 35) attributes to him two treatises, of which one contrasts the eternity of ideas with the finite nature of things, and the other is an attempt to reconcile Plato and Aristotle. The only extant fragments of Bernard's writings are from a treatise Megacosmus and Microcosmus (edited by C. S. Barach at Innsbruck, 1876). The source of Bernard's inspiration was Plato's Timaeus. He maintained that ideas are really existent and are laid up for ever in the mind of God. He further attempted to build up a symbolism of numbers with the view of elaborating the doctrine of the Trinity, and explaining the meaning of unity, plurality and likeness.

See Scholasticism; also V. Cousin, C uvres inedites of Abelard (Paris, 1836); Haureau, Philosophie scolastique, i. 396 foil.

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